12.15.2011

Another Earth-Like Planet?


 Last week the astronomy community was all abuzz over the discovery of an "earth-like" planet about 600 lightyears away which was rather unimaginatively named "Kepler 22b". Apparently the reason for such bland naming as Kepler 22b, HD 85512, and Gliese 581d is that "It would slow everything down: you would need an international system. And these planets are being discovered at a rate of one a day or so' (so says Dr. Ken Rice of the University of Edinburgh cf. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/space/8937818/Exoplanet-Kepler-22b-why-do-these-planets-get-such-dull-names.html#.Tt4nM4LL9CE.email).

Well, that seems a somewhat lazy reason to me, but it may be just as well, since who knows what sort of foolish names modern scientists might give planets (they can always be re-named if people actually visit or colonise these places). But back to the planet itself, it has an average temperature of 72 degrees or 22 Celcius.  Of course, they don't actually know if it has an atmosphere so who knows if it's actually habitable. Apparently Mars is within the "habitable zone" around our own sun but due to its marginal atmosphere is rather inhospitable.

As an aspiring science fiction writer, the discovery of a planet within this zone is certainly of interest to me and hopefully one day we'll visit such places. Faster-than-light travel will be necessary to reach such distant objects, however.

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